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Buenos Aires tango

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No visit to Buenos Aires would be complete without an encounter with tango – the music carried in the soul of the porteño and the dance that fascinates the world.   The tantalizing tango has an equally interesting history.  Its rhythmic beat, melancholic lyrics and sensuous dance emerged from the cultural blend Buenos Aires experienced in the late 1800s, which brought together former slaves of African decent and newly arrived European immigrants.

Though now seen as glamorous and sophisticated, the tango originated in the cabarets and brothels of  Buenos Aires’ poor immigrant neighborhoods.  Argentine high society initially frowned upon tango because of its lower class origins, vulgar lyrics and indecent dance moves.  Ironically, the tango was discovered and embraced by the more progressive and trendsetting Parisians which catapulted tango’s popularity throughout Europe.  Only then, did the Buenos Aires elite start listening and dancing to tango.  This wider acceptance gave rise to stable tango orchestras, posh dance halls and tango idols such as Carlos Gardel.

After suffering a few decades of  decline, tango’s popularity has resurfaced.  Young and old Argentines alike flock to tango lessons and milongas, young couples dazzle on the stages of tango shows, and a new breed of musicians are creating tango fusions with electronic and rock music.

There are several ways you can experience tango in Buenos Aires beyond the casual encounter with a bandoneon (button accordian) player on the Florida mall or a couple dancing in the street’s of San Telmo.

Tango Shows
There are many tanguerias (tango show houses) to select from where you can enjoy hearing tango musicians and singers and see choreographed tango dancing.  Some venues have an option of  a dinner and show, or a show only.


Bar Sur – Estados Unidos 299,  San Telmo, 4362-6086
Enjoy an intimate show in this cozy, historic bar which has entertained celebrities and dignitaries from around the world.

Boca Tango – Brandsen 923, La Boca, 4302-0808
Across from La Bombonera (Boca Juniors Stadium), this tango house offers regional foods and a unique performance which pairs a one act play of immigrant life in the conventillos of the early 20th century, followed by a tango show with live musicians and dancers.

Querandí – Perú 302, San Telmo, 5199-1770
This classic café-bar has been declared a historical monument.  Its popular tango show is very professional, slick and stylish.

El Viejo Almacen – Avda. Independencia and Balcarce, San Telmo, 4307-7388
A traditional show is accompanied with excellent Argentine and international food inside this charming colonial corner building.
Esquina Carlos Gardel – Pasaje Carlos Gardel 3200, Abasto, 4867-6363
Named after the tango singing legend, Carlos Gardel, this is a favorite amongst tourists for its food and impecable dancing.

La Ventana – Balcarce 431, San Telmo, 4334-1314
At this ancient renovated conventillo (tenement house) you can enjoy, not only a tango orchestra and dancers, but also typical Argentine folklore dancing.  Dinner choices include a typical parrilla, an international menu, and regional dishes.

Madero Tango - A. Moreau de Justo y Brasil, Puerto Madero, 5239-3009
The best live orchestras and dancers paired with fabulous meat cuts and international and Argentine signature dishes.

Piazzolla Tango – Florida 165 (Galeria Güemes), Centro (downtown), 4344-8201/2
Housed in the splendor of Galeria Güemes, this tango show is based on the music of  the famous tango composer, Astor Piazzolla.

Rojo Tango - Martha Salotti 445 (Faena Hotel), Puerto Madero, 5787-1536
This enthralling show complete with extravagant attire, impressive acts, props and fantastic music provides a journey through the history of tango.

Taconeando La Vereda de Beba – Balcarce 725, San Telmo, 4307-6696
This traditional tango show, honoring tango singer Beba Bidart, showcases both the traditional and modern elements of tango.

Milongas are tango dance halls where people gather to dance tango and milonga (a dance with a pace that is twice as fast as the tango).  The event itself is also referred to as a milonga.  This style of tango is not choreographed (as in a tango show) and the intricacy of the dance steps depends on the dancers’ preference and/or dance proficiency.  Several milongas offer tango lessons during the week or right before the milonga starts.

Confiteria Ideal and Centro Cultural Torquato Tasso are two of the many places that offer tango classes and host milongas.  Other milongas can be found online at abctango.com.

Tango Classes
Tango can be a beautifully complex and intricate dance; however, it is based on eight basic steps which can be easily learned in a two hour tango class.  After three to four classes (or less) you can be glidding along in a milonga, dancing simple ballroom tango.

Tango Museums
You can learn about tango’s interesting and colorful history by visiting these tango museums:

Museo Mundial del Tango (Academia Nacional del Tango)
Rivadavia 830, Centro (downtown), 4345-6967/68

Museo Casa Carlos Gardel – Jean Jaurés 735, Abasta, 4516-0943/0944

Sala Museo Carlos Gardel (Casa del Teatro)
Avenida Santa Fe 1243, Barrio Norte, 4813-5906

Museo Cultural del Tango – Maipú 666, Centro (downtown), 4326-5445

Piazzolla Tango – Florida 165 (basement), Centro (downtown), 4344-8201/02

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